Six months ago, I left my teaching job in Korea and started the journey to becoming a digital nomad. As much as I’d love to say it’s a vacation on the beach with a little bit of laptop time, that’s unfortunately not the case. Despite not everything being sunshine and rainbows, I certainly don’t regret it.
Beginning as a Digital Nomad
When I left my teaching job, I knew about remote work, but it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. I needed something I could start right away and could do in a foreign country (as I wasn’t in my home country at the time).
After a bit of research, I became obsessed with the #digitalnomadlife and the idea of being location independent. Travel has always been important to me and something I valued highly, so I knew I needed something that allowed me to that.
ESL teaching jumpstarted a more travel-friendly lifestyle, but I wanted more. From classroom ESL teaching, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to switch to an online platform. That’s when I started with VIPKid.
It started off like a “normal job” – working 7-8 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. The best part of is the ability to make my own schedule and working from anywhere. As long as I have a strong internet connection and a quiet place to work, I’m good to go! I’m not the digital nomad you’ll see at trendy cafes working away. If I was in there singing the silly children’s song, I’m sure I’d get kicked out in a second!
What’s great about this kind of job, is when I have more time I work more. When I’m busy or travelling, I work less. Overall it evens out and allows me to be in control.
Growing as a Digital Nomad
While I was still in Korea, I picked up some tutoring to supplement my income and to help cover my upcoming travel expenses. While this isn’t a digital nomad job, it’s certainly something you can do while travelling if you’re in one place long enough.
I was also continuously trying out different jobs. This was for a few reasons. To find out what I liked to do, what I was good at, and what worked for this lifestyle.
I was doing tons of research at this point. Reading blogs, attending webinars, and learning as much as possible. I kept doing ‘traditional’ (i.e. in person) freelance jobs that I had done before – modelling, voice work, promotional events, etc. to boost my income and get out and meet people. You can check out my average monthly income over the last six months below.
Earning as a Digital Nomad
While no two months are the same, I would average around $1300 USD per month. Some months more, some less. My last few months in Korea were much higher thanks to the tutoring, while my time travelling around Europe were lower.
How to Get Started as a Digital Nomad
Firstly, I would highly suggest either have some savings or a fairly consistent job. I had a couple thousand in savings when I left my job and immediately looked for a something I could do regularly.
Even if it’s not the income amount you’re searching for (I want to make more than $1000 a month) it’s at least something I can count on. I don’t have to keep applying to it, pitching to a company, or waiting for clients. It’s consistent and regular income – but I still have a sense of control over it based on how much I want to work.
The other jobs are a mix of passion projects and things I would like to learn. I was trying on many different hats. I looked into becoming a Virtual Assistant, tried transcription, and a few other jobs. Turns out, I liked freelance writing and editing – but that I wasn’t a huge fan of transcription.
When you have that consistent baseline, it gives you more of an opportunity to do some trial and error to find out what you like.
I also took tons of courses to learn as much as I could and get my blog up and running and looking nice. I hours of research about what hosting I want, get my theme looking how I wanted, and not knowing any code, lots of googling.
But that’s okay, I love learning. And despite my blog not being exactly where I hoped it’d be, I’m quite happy with what it’s become. When I set my initial goals, it was before I intended to spend months in Europe travelling around. Before I knew I wasn’t going to have great internet all the time, and before I really knew what I wanted.
And that’s okay – because life happens.
Managing expectations and being honest with yourself is truly key to achieving what you want (even when that changes!) and being successful as a digital nomad.
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